4 Min ReadApril 16, 2024

The Pros and Cons of Involving Sales Staff in F&I

The Pros and Cons of Involving Sales Staff in F and I.

We know how the traditional F&I sales process works and why customers sometimes shut down as a new round of selling starts when they thought the deal was almost done. Interactions with the F&I office can then be a sore point for many customers. To make it more customer-friendly and to increase profit, there’s room to rethink the process.

To that end, some car dealerships are making salespeople a part of the F&I team — as second-string players, not starters. This means a salesperson brings up F&I products as they interact with customers and leave the final selling to the F&I Managers. There are pros and cons to this new approach so let’s review both.

Yes, Get Sales Staff Involved!

Many customers arrive at the dealership with no awareness of F&I products, and awareness of these options is key for sales. Spark that awareness earlier in the process and you’ll help the sales staff get involved. Here are the reasons why:

  1. If you communicate the value of F&I products earlier in conversations, you can make a stronger and more personalized case for the value of these offerings. Consider, for example, the trade-in walk-around. A salesperson who notices tire and wheel damage on the used vehicle has a natural opening to discuss tire and wheel insurance.
  2. Sales staff who build trust with the customer can position products in a different light. Sure, most customers understand these products are an additional revenue stream for dealerships. However, the goal is to protect the customer’s investment. Sales staff can make this message clear when they match the products discussed to the customer’s unique needs.
  3. The traditional siloed selling approach in many dealerships leaves customers feeling as if they’re being handed off to a different person at the end of the transaction — an impression that puts them on guard and less inclined to listen to the F&I presentation. Make sure the sales staff communicates the value of products earlier in the conversation so customers will be more likely to consider their options.
  4. Sales teams who use the same digital retail tool in store that customers use at home give buyers the opportunity to consider their own needs and realize the value of each aftermarket product before engaging with the F&I Manager. Review products side by side on a tablet, showcased with multimedia presentations including video, and the customer will feel in charge and educated as they make product decisions. This kind of upfront self-education sets the F&I Manager up for success as menu presentations can be tailored to reflect those products that customers viewed with the salesperson.

No, Sales Staff Need to Stay in Their Lane

F&I Managers have a difficult job and many have spent years honing their skills. It’s natural to be wary of sales staff stepping on long-established turf. To be clear, sales staff aren’t selling products. Rather, they’re beginning the discussion. However, there are concerns, including:

  1. Sales staff who aren’t trained on F&I products may do more harm than good. They don’t need to be product experts, but they must understand the basics of product benefits and values. Allow sales staff to shadow F&I Managers to provide hands-on training for the best ways to bring up products and explain value.
  2. A sales briefing can potentially prejudice the F&I Manager to the sales associate’s perspective. While this is a valid concern, it’s worth noting the sales associate has spent a good amount of time with the customer and gathered valuable information on wants and needs. An F&I Manager can use this intel to create a personalized menu while also including products and services the customer deems essential.
  3. If you incentivize the sales staff to grow their understanding of F&I products, it’ll affect the F&I Manager’s compensation. But the effect will be marginal at best. F&I Managers who work with sales staff may spiff a few bucks if a customer purchases a product recommended by a salesperson. This small payment pales in comparison to the value to the F&I Manager and the dealership when more F&I products are sold.

Improved F&I sales today can mean a boost in profits and higher customer satisfaction through better investment protection tomorrow. It’s important to consider new strategies to avoid the frustration many customers feel with the traditional F&I process.

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Saundi Crandall
By Saundi Crandall
Product Marketer, CDK Global

Saundi Crandall is in Product Marketing at CDK Global. She's motivated to help dealerships transform their F&I processes to create continued success in today’s hybrid world.

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